22 December 2019 02:38


As with any great American endeavor, women have been in football from the very beginning. As far back as 1926, women were playing the sport, albeit as halftime entertainment during home games of the Frankford (Penn.) Yellow Jackets. Since then, women have populated bandstands, infiltrated sidelines, officiated games, coached and owned teams in the National Football League, their ranks growing as opportunities and attitudes continue to shift. Most notably, women have become a powerful — and sought after — consumer of the league, comprising about 45 percent of its fan base. Among female fans in the coveted 35-and-under age grouping, viewership and attendance at N.F.L. games are on the rise, a stronghold among the cord-cutting populace.

For N.F.L. Mothers, ‘Injury Is at the Forefront of Your Mind’

And with 70 to 80 percent of household spending being decided by women, the N.F.L. has belatedly come around to marketing the game to them. The league's efforts have not been universally acclaimed. From its annual "NFL Women's Summit" that has been criticized as pandering, to tutorials on the fundamentals of the game nobody seemed to ask for, to its often erratic handling of players accused of partner violence, the league's approach can come across as ham-handed as a "Take my wife, please" joke setup. Still, the future of football might largely be in the hand of women. With participation rates around the country in decline and estimates that women make 80 percent of family health care decisions and the majority of choices that affect their households, we asked a handful of N.F.L. moms if they would make the same decision, in favor of football, if they had to again.